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Scaremongering! London Olympic organisers rebuke US mag Ad Age

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

June 6, 2012 | 4 min read

An article in the American magazine Ad Age saying restrictions on the London Olympics were harsher than Beijing four years ago was "inaccurate and scaremongering" a spokesperson for London 2012 has told the Drum in a statement.

'Harsher then Beijing'

Ad Age said sponsors were demanding "extreme levels of exclusivity, creating a kind of corporate straightjacket" around the two-week-long event.

LOCOG said, "Without our sponsors, the Games simply wouldn’t happen. We have a fantastic group of world class sponsors on board, working with us to stage spectacular Games this summer."

Ad Age has since withdrawn a claim that spectators wearing "competitor-branded clothing, or consuming unofficial food or drink choices " would not be welcome in exclusion zones.

But another Ad Age point is conceded: Visa - a worldwide sponsor - is the official card of the Games and spectators will have to use cash or debit cards if they don't have a Visa card.

Ad Age listed a phalanx of restrictions - partly due to 2006 UK legislation giving the Olympics and their sponsors an extra level of protection beyond existing copyright and contract law.

To protect sponsors, a 35-day, one-kilometer Brand Exclusion Zone will be enforced around all Olympic venues, inside which no brands that compete with official sponsor brands can advertise.

For road events such as the marathon and some of the cycling, the exclusion zone extends two metres on either side of the track.

Even the Olympic flame route is protected . Members of the "brand protection team" will be out with the Torch team, the Drum has been told .

Ad Age said,"This kind of total clampdown might have been expected under the Communist regime during the 2008 games, but London?"

The sponsors - including McDonald's, Coca-Cola, British Airways and Adidas have together paid $1 billion for the right to be a part of the games.

A spokesperson for the LOCOG made it clear to the Drum how vital it was to give the sponsors a fair shake.

"LOCOG has an obligation to protect and preserve the exclusive rights to associate with the Olympic, Paralympic and London 2012 brands but we do that in a sensible way.

"Where there is an infringement, our aim is to educate rather than litigate and we will take a firm but pragmatic approach to protect this investment against rogue companies which attempt to use the Games to promote themselves.”

LOCOG also said that while footage of actual sporting events is copyright , it is not prohibiting the posting of fan photos taken at events on social media and, is in fact, encouraging it.

The Queen will open the Games on July 27.

UPDATE: If you pop into Lord's cricket ground for the Olympic archery, says Ad Age, you won't find your usual Marston's beer . The pumps have gone temporarily. Heineken has the official "pouring rights" for the games.

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